Three civil rights groups filed a complaint against Harvard on Monday, claiming its preferential policy for undergraduate applicants with family ties to the elite school overwhelmingly benefits white students, days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down its race-conscious admissions policies.
The groups filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education claiming that Harvard’s preferences for “legacy” applicants violates a federal law banning race discrimination for programs that receive federal funds, as virtually all U.S. colleges and universities do.
Last week, the Supreme Court said race-conscious policies adopted by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina to ensure that more non-white students are admitted are unconstitutional. The decision was a major blow to efforts to attract diverse student bodies and is expected to prompt new challenges to admission policies.
Harvard College is the undergraduate school of Harvard University.
The groups in Monday’s complaint said the Supreme Court ruling had made it even more imperative to eliminate policies that disadvantage non-white applicants.
Harvard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The groups are represented by Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based nonprofit that describes itself on its website as working with “communities of color and immigrants to fight discrimination.”
Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, the group’s executive director, said the Supreme Court last week made clear that any policies that disadvantage racial groups are unlawful by noting that “eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.”
“Your family’s last name and the size of your bank account are not a measure of merit, and should have no bearing on the college admissions process,” he said in a statement.